Getting Ready for Utah

Okay…first off, it’s been a LOOOONNNGGGG while since writing to the blog! Oops. I really do want to chronicle our RV adventures here, so I will be back-loading all the great trips we’ve been on so far.

Since we picked up the RV back in 2019, we probably made a good 8-9 trips in the first year. Mostly local trips…no more than 3 or 4 hours. Fun trips, though, and we certainly learned a lot.

purchase day!

Then COVID-19 struck, and the poor camper ended up sitting in storage for more than a year. The pandemic isn’t over, but we have a terrific opportunity to head out to Utah this month. Dad and Gail have done another of their crazy cross-country treks in their RV, and all of us would really like to take advantage of their proximity to meet up in a place we’ve not yet been.

We’ve never had the opportunity to see southern Utah’s amazing parks. Zion and Snow Canyon are supposed to be gorgeous, and Dad and Gail are heading back east along that route. So, we decided this is an excellent chance to see some new sites, dust off the RV and spend some quality time with Dad and Gail.

So, I brought the RV up to the house this weekend. It lives not too far away…maybe 4 miles or so…and gave it a good cleaning and once-over. I also decided to take it in to have the undercarriage looked at, since it’s been sitting idle so long. The guy at our storage place suggested a tire repair shop up in Ripon, so I hauled the RV up there today and just decided to have them put on some new tires. Our old ones were already 4 years old, and only 8 ply. He had some brand new 10-ply tires at a really good price. No brainer!

We just got back from putting the RV to bed in it’s tiny space, and this coming Sunday we’ll once again bring it up to the house and stock up on food and supplies for our Monday departure. Dad and Gail will meet us somewhere on the road east of here and we’ll caravan out to Utah taking the south route through Bakersfield and near Las Vegas.

One of the cool things I’m looking forward to seeing is the (now defunct) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy project at Tonopah. This was a large concentrated solar power project that used hundreds of moving to focus the sun’s rays onto a boiler on top of a tall tower, which produced steam and ran a huge generator.

I think it ended up killing lots of birds.

Anyhow, I’m sure there will be lots to see. Sounds like we’re limiting daily driving to 300 miles or so, so we’ll need to stop a couple nights on the way out. The total distance is 653 miles from us, or about 9 hours, 9 minutes total time, although that’s probably calculated using actual highway speeds. We’ll only be doing 55mph the whole way out, so it’ll take us more like 12 hours, hence breaking the trip up into segments.

We’ll be staying at Zion River Resort, which is between Zion national park and St. George. I did visit St. George before when my friend Brandt got married, but that was a LONG time ago.

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Trip #1 – 49er RV Ranch – day 1

Places visited: Columbia, CA; Sonora, CA; Twain Harte, CA

First Day

‘This was our first trip in the RV. It wasn’t long after we purchased it that we had already scanned a dozen sites and settled on 49er RV Park. The park was pretty close, in the foothills of the Sierras near Columbia, CA., a spot we’ve visited before…just not in an RV.

The Ranch looked like it had some interesting flair to it. Old waterwheel, ore carts, hoe-downs by campfire. It sounded like a generally neat place. I recall the trip up starting out with us both very nervous, but after we’d been on the road 30 minutes, I was feeling confident about getting us up there safely. Backing into a site…well, that was another story.

Before we left, I had spent some time practicing backing up and parking out at the Tracy aiport, which had a lot of open space to maneuver a camper around in. After an hour or so, I was felt pretty good about not killing anyone, and maybe even not damaging property!

Once we arrived and pulled up to the office, we found out that our spot was close by…the end of a row next to the propane service area. I think I started sweating bullets. Hitting another camper was a bad day…taking out a propane facility would have been slightly more bad.

The dreaded propane facility. We parked on the other side.

Fortunately we had a helper from the Ranch accompany us and helped us to back us in. It was a tight squeeze…not much privacy…but after we parked and got ourselves set up, it was an awesome experience! Our site was pretty much smack in the middle of the “ranch”, and we went out exploring the sights as soon as we were done pitching camp.

Here are some of the “attractions” of 49er RV Ranch!

Columbia State Park

After we settled in and did some panning in the ranch’s “creek”, we headed out to visit nearby Columbia State Park. I remember is was blistering hot that day, and there weren’t that many folks around, but we spent the morning wandering about and checking out the town, which was a replica of early mining days. Fortunately, there was an ice cream store and a neat hotel where we could escape the heat for at least a little while. The smith shop was really cool!

First Night

Back at camp that afternoon, we made a nice fish dinner and then headed over to the bonfire to hang out with other guests. Great experience! I really started to feel what the RV life is all about. Everyone was super nice, and had great stories of traveling. We met folks from all over the US, not just California. I was very inspired.

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Pick-up Day!

It’s official!

Today is RV Purchase Day!! We’re down here at Family RV in Morgan Hill. We had come down before to look at the RVs, and decided on the Apex Nano 191rbs by Forest River.

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Purchase Day!

It’s All OURS!

We came down to Family RV in Morgan Hill to look over some potential RVs, and ended up buying an 19′ Apex Nano!

Here’s my walk around video…
Pre-purchase walk-around

Here are some more pics!

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Getting our foot in the Door

After many years of dreaming, analyzing, doubting and procrastinating, it’s finally happened. We bought an RV. In doing so, we’ve also started a journey of making memories on wheels.

The strange thing about our transition to the “lifestyle” was how quickly it came about. I have a manila folder tagged “RV Info”. Inside are flyers and pull sheets from at least 2 dozen different RVs, some dating back to 2012. We’ve been to many shows over the years since, living the dream in our minds as we walked among huge class A motorhomes with fancy tile and giant TVs, fireplaces, Captain’s Chairs and kitchen islands. We knew that in order to obtain any of these monsters, we’d need a tow vehicle that could pull it, and they cost at least double the price of the 5th-wheel and travel trailers we liked!

Up to this point, all we had was a 2009 Honda Pilot, which could pull up to 4,500 pounds. I remember the day we got it we had the choice to accept what was on the lot or wait a couple months for one to be shipped. We chose the former option, but ended up with an added bonus–this particular Pilot had the Tow Package installed! This included an extra radiator and other tow-related things. It wasn’t until later that the value became clear.

Sometime last month, I was bitten again by the RV bug. I don’t know what brought it on, but I found myself digitally thumbing through the pages of RV Trader looking for lightweight travel trailers, and in doing so, reinforce the fantasy of owning one at some point.

Up to now I was pretty much hooked on the Lance line of ultra-light trailers. Their sleek, comfy design was perfect for a couple like us, however over the years they’ve continued to increase in price until it flew beyond my reach.

I pressed on, looking for other trailers that might meet both my expectations on price sanity while staying strictly on the diet that the Pilot proscribed. That’s when I came across the Coachment Apex Nano. I quickly zeroed in on a model that strick a chord (the 191rbs). I even found one for sale up in Oregon.

I was intrigued. The price was, well, affordable and the layout looked a lot like the Lance. However, I wasn’t particularly excited at the prospect of driving 8 hours (or flying 2) in order to just *look* at the thing, let alone buy it. Besides, it was used, and for some reason I attached a weird stigma to that fact. Nonetheless, I emailed the seller and started asking some questions.

Two weeks later I was becoming crestfallen. I wanted to see it, but I didn’t want to travel that far. Then alas, miracle of miracles…one was listed in the Bay Area, just 1.5 hours away!

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